A protester stood before the actual conversation at Thursday night’s CT Forum (a panel on racism) to say that members of the Black Lives Matter movement were there to disrupt the proceedings because there was no meaningful representation of their movement on the stage, and talk doesn’t bring back the black lives lost to brutality, and conversation needs to move to action.
Someone involved with the effort contacted me last night on Facebook and said this was going on, and asked me to like or share (today’s form of activism) their status update on Facebook.
I know the folks at CT Forum and believe they are doing great work. I didn’t know what form the disruption took (the video above wasn’t posted yet) and from a few goofs in the past, I’ve learned that giving an endorsement to something about which I knew so little is foolhardy. So I didn’t like or share anything.
Then I spent the next few hours wondering why I couldn’t just hit the “like” button. I settled on “I don’t know what form that disruption took, and is it smart to disrupt an event where people are actually talking about the issue you want talked about.”
Even as I type that, I know how it sounds. “Be happy, Black People, because we’re talking about you.”
I do not believe that was CT Forum’s intent — at all. The forum creates a space where people can both talk, and listen, and last night’s event would have been worth the ticket I would have cheerfully paid for, had I not been teaching a class. Had I been there — had we all been there — we would have gained wisdom from the protesters, and from the people on the stage.
On Thursday, the Central Connecticut State University communication department is hosting “Bridging the Gap: A Dream Deferred,” the culmination of a semester-long look at wealth and income inequality through the prism of race. This is our second such event, and we have been intentional in the planning. Tim Wise, author of “White Like Me,” and “Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich, and Sacrificing the Future of America,” is our keynote speaker. We chose Wise because of his then-upcoming book (“Affluence”) and because he’s an incredibly dynamic educator.
It did not go unnoticed that he is also a white man. We debated that, too.
We talk about race from our own unique perspective. I can read all I want and talk to as many people as I want from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, yet I will still and always see the world as a white woman. My CCSU class had the privilege of listening to Bishop John Selders, a Moral Monday Ct and Black Lives Matter leader, come and talk about the history of the movement, and his own involvement. That class lecture remains a high point of the semester, which officially ends Monday.
But did we cover all the bases? I don’t know, and if someone shows up to protest Thursday, I have settled on this: I will shut up and listen. Yes, I will be annoyed at the disruption. You have no idea how much work goes into hosting an event like this. I have no idea how much work goes into hosting an event like this, because our planner, Joan Walden, has done all the work. But it’s a lot, I think.
Still: This is all in the name of learning, and broadening the conversation, and those messy and uncomfortable conversations are worth the price of the semester. Onward. And here is a list of demands from Moral Monday CT, working in tandem with the Black Lives Matter movement:
An immediate moratorium on shoot-to-kill and an end to police brutality against black people.
- Full employment for our people
- Affordable, quality housing.
- An end to the school to prison pipeline.
- Freedom from mass incarceration and an end to the prison industrial complex.